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A New Addiction

While heroin and opioid addiction is the rage in the headlines now, it’s not the only type of addiction that is ruining people’s lives. It doesn’t involve needles or any kind of ingestion. In fact, many people can fall susceptible solely because it’s such a common thing to do. The only good thing is that this type of addiction won’t cause the same kind of medical problems as drugs, but it will ruin your life if you fall into its grip.

This is social media addiction.

Social media addiction climbed into the media recently because of Jason Parker, a lecturer in Old Dominion University’s Department of Psychology. He talked to the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily. Parker said in the interview, “Addiction to social media may not cause physical harm the way addictions to tobacco and alcohol do. But it could trigger long-term damage to emotions, behavior, and relationships.”

Sadly, this is true. Addiction to drugs and alcohol can lead to certain behavioral characteristics. For example, people with a substance addiction will often sacrifice social and recreational commitments to fulfill the addiction. When at a restaurant, how common is it to see a group of teenagers sitting on their phone and not talking. Obsession is another symptom that is obviously common in addiction. And people who are social media addicts obviously have an obsession. They can be found posting on Twitter or Facebook nearly all of the time. They are posting excessive statements about their life including events and random thoughts.

When frequently posting on social media, people may miss out on important development skills, warns Parker. Parker doesn’t list anything specifically, but he also warns about the fear of an “imaginary audience.” The worry of an imaginary audience is best described by Parker himself.

“When I first studied developmental psychology, there was something called an ‘imaginary audience,’ where adolescents would be terrified that everyone would know when anything bad or embarrassing happened. Twenty years ago, that was a myth, and today, it is called Facebook. Being embarrassed or shamed is a much more powerful threat today.”

Social media addiction can best be avoided by using it in moderation. If not, there is a real chance that addiction can occur.